Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Carbonara Sauce | The authentic way to make it
Carbonara Sauce is possibly one of the most distorted and ‘abused’ sauces worldwide. I admit to being a pedant and quite militant with it when it comes to Italian food, but why mess with something so simple and delicious? By all means, make pasta with a sauce that includes cream, mushrooms…whatever you want to stick in it. Go for it! Just please don’t call it ‘carbonara’!
Authentic Carbonara Sauce only contains a few very simple ingredients: eggs, pecorino cheese, black pepper, guanciale (it can be difficult to get hold of in the UK – I order it online – so you CAN substitute pancetta, but for the best – and most authentic – taste, try to get hold of guanciale).
Note: I have updated this recipe a little – the ingredients are the same, but the method is improved, to give you the creamiest, tastiest carbonara. You can find this, and step-by-step photos to go along with the instructions, in my Tagliatelle alla Carbonara recipe.
Ingredients for 4 people:
- 6 large egg yolks (if you don’t like waste, make meringue with the left-over whites)
- 70-100g grated pecorino cheese (enough to make a thick paste with the egg yolks – the exact amount will depend on the size of the yolks)
- plenty of freshly-ground black pepper (to taste, but you do want to see a ‘speckled’ effect, ideally)
- 240g guanciale, cut into approx. 1cm strips (if you really can’t get hold of any, substitute with diced pancetta – I get my guanciale online here)
- Spaghetti for 4 people (approx. 700g)
Place a large pan / stockpot approx. 3/4 full of water onto the hob and turn the heat on high.
While the pasta water comes to the boil, separate the eggs and place the egg yolks in a large serving bowl. Add the grated pecorino cheese and freshly-ground black pepper to the egg yolks and stir in with a fork. Aim for a thick consistency.
In a frying pan, heat the guanciale on a low heat until the fat goes transparent and a little bit crispy (watch it carefully – it can very quickly go from perfect to burnt!).
Once the water comes to the boil, add a handful of coarse sea salt. Add the spaghetti when the water is boiling vigorously and cook for the indicated time on the pack, but taste it a minute or two before the time’s up, to ensure you don’t over-cook it. It needs to retain a little bit of ‘bite’ – the ‘al dente‘ consistency.
Once the spaghetti are cooked, drain them and immediately drop them into the big serving bowl containing the egg yolks, pecorino cheese and black pepper, mixing them with a serving spoon and fork to ensure the pasta is evenly coated in the egg, pecorino & pepper mixture and no ‘clumps’ form.
Pour on the guanciale immediately and mix in. Serve & enjoy!